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The Crime of the Century: How the Brinks Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Crime of the Century: How the Brinks Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston by Stephanie Schorow...

On January 17, 1950, seven robbers in Halloween masks walked into a counting room of the Brink's armored car garage on Prince Street in Boston and walked out with $2.5 million in cash, checks, and securities. It was the largest robbery in U.S. history to date. Yet not a shot was fired, not a drop of blood was shed. The robbers simply said, "This is a stick-up," before gagging and tying up the guards. Within minutes they escaped into the night with bags stuffed with money, leaving almost no clues behind. For six years, authorities worked to crack the case. Just before the statute of limitations ran out, one of the robbers, who believed he was cheated out of his share, ratted out his comrades. The subsequent trial captivated a city, as details of the caper finally came to light. Yet most of the loot was never found, and over the years Bostonians have speculated on where it went. Even after the case was solved and the culprits were jailed, the Brink's robbery continued to fascinate the public. How did a ragtag group of petty criminals-- Irish, Italian, and one Jew--somehow pull off a nearly perfect crime? Hollywood made two movies that portrayed the robbers as working-class heroes. A closer examination of the robbery, however, reveals a darker side. What first appeared to be a daring, bloodless caper turned deadly when the lure of the cash and the fear of imprisonment turned friend against friend. Soon the criminal code of silence was being enforced with the blast of a machine gun. To this day mystery and intrigue surround the Brink's robbery even as it continues to grip the imagination of Boston. The Crime of the Century is a fascinating caper and a portrait of Boston in the postwar era.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 31, 2008
Publisher   Commonwealth Editions
ISBN  1933212543  
ISBN13  9781933212548  

Availability  0 units.

More About Stephanie Schorow

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stephanie Schorow is a Boston-based freelance writer, author, teacher and artist. She is the author of The Crime of the Century: How the Brink's Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston; East of Boston: Notes from the Harbor Islands (The History Press, 2008); Boston on Fire: A History of Fires and Firefighting in Boston; and The Cocoanut Grove Fire. She was the editor of Boston's Fire Trail: A Walk Through the City's Fire and Firefighting History (The History Press, 2007). She has spent thirty years working for various news organizations, including the Boston Herald, the TAB chain, the Stamford Advocate and the Associated Press. She currently works as a freelancer for the Boston Globe and teaches writing at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. She is working on her next book, tentatively titled Drinking Boston: A History of the City and Its Spirits.

Stephanie Schorow currently resides in Medford, in the state of Massachusetts.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > 1950s
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > State & Local - By State > Massachusetts
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Crime & Criminals > Criminology
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > True Stories > True Crime

Reviews - What do customers think about The Crime of the Century: How the Brinks Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston?

Outstanding prose  Jun 12, 2008
"This is Brink's. We are cleaned out. We are cleaned out." That's how the world first learned of what was then the largest heist in U.S. history - 350 pounds of money was taken by a gang of masked bandits that managed to pull the job without hurting anyone (not until afterward, anyway, when a series of mysterious deaths in the underworld left some to wonder).

The many students of this immortal crime and spectacular trial are well served by this most recent retelling. Newly opened police archives lend new detail, dozens of photos are included, and the author is a superb storyteller. Her prose is carefully polished, the descriptions are evocative, and her portraits of the inveterate thieves and hustlers who did it is deft and engaging.

The Brink's guards, suspected of involvement, were "grilled to the point of trauma." The author captures the public reaction so well ("What was not to admire? No one was hurt. The guards were shaken up, sure, but not a shot was fired. And Brink's -- what was Brink's but a Chicago-based company that didn't live up to its reputation as a bastion of well-oiled, fortress-tight security? Brink's was the real culprit.") And any author who can manage to make the history of Brink's interesting deserves a medal.

This was a meticulously planned heist with such shocking results. The newspapers pulled out their biggest type. And despite the fact that the subsequent trial was "an all-men show" -- the first great criminal trial without sex or romance, "without even a woman's shadow" (Boston Post), the theft has garnered a fortune for more than the gang who did it. As the author states, "If you lined up all those who profited from the million-dollar Brink's heist, the robbers would probably stand at the end of the line. For decades reporters, writers, and moviemakers have seen green in the dramatization of the robbery." Now Stephanie Schorow can add her own name to that list, but unlike the original band of thugs, she deserves her reward.

To top this book, a future author would have to find the still-missing loot -- and even then would have a more awesome challenge trying to best the storytelling skills on display here.
Good Overview of the Brinks Job   Apr 14, 2008
Stephanie Schorow is quickly becoming one of the best tellers of Boston's history. The torch has been passed to her from some of the legends like Thomas O'Connor and in The Crime of the Century she does not disappoint. She does a wonderful job here of removing the "folk hero" status that the Brinks robbers received after their job, while at the same time not rewriting history and turning them into some type of scoundrels. She does a tremendous job of keeping the reading involved through the long planning process for the job, the even longer investigation and finally the trial and incarceration of the gang. Schorow does a great job of telling the story behind the movie with the hold up of the film crew and the A/C units in every window after word got out of a fee to remove them being very enjoyable. Lastly, breaking down the fact vs. fiction aspect is highly enjoyable.

My only complaint and the reason I don't give this the full five stars is that I don't think Schorow gives the story the detail and passion she gave Boston on Fire her last full time book. I found that had much more detail and showed a development and story line that mirrored how the city had changed. Either way, don't let that stop you from buying an excellent book!
How Did the Brinks Robbery Turn the Thieves Into Folk Heroes?  Mar 11, 2008
As in her earlier books about Boston's Great Fires, former journalist Stephanie Schorow digs below the surface and comes up with the real story behind Boston's most famous robbery. And it didn't happen like it was portrayed in the star studded 1978 Motion Picture. While she was researching this book subject the author told everyone who knew her what she was working on because she knew from experience that it opens new doors of inquiry. One friend to whom she mentioned her new project said, "Oh isn't that a coincidence, my uncle was foreman of the jury that tried the case." And if that wasn't enough of a tip, her friend also mentioned "that her aunt had kept a scrapbook of the case. And she still had it." Bingo--it was a researchers dream come true.
While visiting with members of the police headquarters for a "Boston Herald" story, one of the members of the department casually mentioned that they had all the old files and transcripts from the case that had never been examined by researchers. It was another investigative reporters dream come true. Helped by additional surprises and windfalls such as these and another one where a friend from the Jamaica Plains section of Boston told her she knew where the missing money from the robbery was buried and would take her to the Mission Hill location, they went looking for it. Alas, you'll have to read the book to see if they found any of the buried treasure. Later based on information in the scrapbook she had been loaned by her friend's aunt, she discovered the house where the money was buried was the place the robbers had gone after the robbery and split the loot.
Once you start this thriller, be prepared to stay up half or most of the night trying to get through the book's 204 pages of main text and additional pages of time lines and notes. It's a real page-turner that won't be easy to put down before finishing. The book is illustrated with dozens of rare photos to help explain the story and show the people involved in it as well as police reenactments of the crime scene with the robbery victims recreating exactly what happened during the robbery by the crooks wearing Halloween Masks.
The part of the book I found the most amusing was the making of the 1978 motion picture about the robbery. The motion picture company kept getting ripped off by everyone in every way. Another robbery occurred on the set of the crime and the edited motion picture film was stolen at gun point and held for ransom. Did the film company have to pay the ransom? You'll have to read the book to find out. Corrupt members of the Teamsters Union were so strong-armed in their no-show hires that Hollywood Motion Picture studios avoided filming in Boston for several years. Eventually three of the corrupt thugs from Teamster's Union went to jail for their ripping off the movie companies. A couple of the original Brink's Robbers were extra's in the movie. Several other characters from the actual robbery and investigation also appeared as extra's in the final movie. It created the same kind of local interest and excitement that "JAWS" later produced with the local population when it was filmed in nearby Martha's Vineyard.
Part of the book deals with the strange satisfaction local everyday Bostonians took with the fact that a gang of locals could pull off and get away with stealing over a million dollars from the most secure armored car business in the world without firing a shot or injuring a single person during the crime. The local population was also pleased that the thieves would have gotten away with the crime had not one of the gang members ratted the other gang members out six years after the caper occurred. The robbers became instant folk heroes. The author does a wonderful job of tying up most of the loose ends about the story of the robbers and what happened to all the missing money. Some times true stories are more fascinating than fiction and this is one of those cases. It proves that some times it's better to be very lucky than really smart. These small-time robbers almost got away with the perfect crime of the century.

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